red miura

Red Crystal, Part 3

Previous

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Filling out the forms was less-terrifying and much easier than he expected, thankfully, which gave him enough time to browse some of the books in the rooms before he went to sleep.

It was strange for him, though, that he was interested in learning what the books had to offer. A part of him could remember that he was never one for learning from books, but that same part felt like there was something important he needed to do, and to do it, he needed to learn from these books.

He pulled a book off the shelves and opened it to read from the first page. It was full of technical explanations and his eyes glazed over two paragraphs in.

He returned the book and tried another and another. Four more books were taken and returned due to the same reason.

He found what he was looking for in the fifth book. He put it on the couch and went through the others looking for similar books, books to help him actually practice with his Spirit Core.

After some time and a good amount of books found, there was a knock from behind one of the walls, “Hey, Enma! It’s time for dinner! You better come out now! You already spent a lot of time in there, you can return here tomorrow.”

Enma blinked and looked from the books to the wall and back again, before he sighed and went to the entrance; he probably shouldn’t be pissing off whichever Priest calling for him. Besides, he needed to go find Tsu and talk to them about trying out a practical learning approach.

.

Two days came and went with no sign of Tsu. Asking the other Priests gave him nothing useful aside from knowing that Tsu was unexpectedly busy and couldn’t come to the Temple for a few days.

And so, Enma spent the time either practicing meditation like the books suggested or talking with Skull who came by daily.

On the third day, he decided to go and turn in the forms, if Tsu wouldn’t be returning anytime soon, then Enma needed to get his work done without Tsu around; Tsu was going to have to adjust to the possible new schedule.

He fiddled with the hem of his shirt as he gave Haru the forms, worrying that he passed the deadline for turning the papers in.

Haru smiled at him reassuringly, “You came back just in time, today was the last day.”

Her eyes flitted behind him and she blinked, “Tsuna! I almost didn’t see you there behind Enma!”

Enma blinked and turned around to see who was standing behind him without his notice.

He was met with pupil-less, amber eyes and a messy, brown hair done in a braid that was left to drape over one shoulder.

Tsuna’s eyes drilled into his.

“Oh, Tsuna! This is Enma! He was just turning in his application forms!”

Tsuna reached a hand towards her and she handed the forms over, he clutched them in his hand, all the while maintaining eye-contact with Enma.

“You’re hired.”

“Eh?” Haru cocked her head to the side in confusion, Enma unconsciously mirrored her. Tsuna didn’t even spare the forms any glance, how could he decide whether Enma was a decent applicant or not?

“I’m Tsunayoshi of the Vongola, the current head of the group,” Tsunayoshi spoke, voice emotionless, the spark in his eyes sending a foreboding chill down Enma’s spine, “Pack up, we’re leaving in half an hour.” After he said his piece, Tsunayoshi turned on his heel and left the building.

Enma turned to look at Haru, who looked as confused as he was.

Haru recovered quickly, though, and returned to smiling at him, “You heard him. You’ve been hired. It’s best if you go back to the Temple now and pack up whatever you have for a trip. The boss will pick you up from there.”

“How sure are you that he will?” Enma asked, voice faint.

“He didn’t tell you where to meet him, did he?”

“No.”

“There you go. Now go, you have a job to prepare for.”

Enma speed walked to the entrance, breaking out into a jog once he left the building. He was distracted all the way to the Temple, wondering what type of job he could possibly be hired for on the spot. Did Tsunayoshi even check to see the content of his application forms? What if he did after he left and decided that maybe Enma wasn’t suitable for it after all? Or maybe it was generic and anyone could do it?

Enma sighed, even when he thought things would get somewhat clearer, he was proven wrong. At least he only had a couple sets of clothes aside from what he was wearing at the moment, so he didn’t have to worry about over-packing.

.

Tsunayoshi came to get him in thirty minutes, just like he said.

He stalked towards him where he was sitting in the Temple’s main hall and dragged him outside, then over to the stairs to the side, up the stairs until the balcony made out of the Temple’s roof, and the highest point on the land. The Vongola’s ship was floating up in the air already with the gangplank pulled down.

Tsunayoshi walked up the gangplank and Enma scrambled behind him. The moment the two were inside, the ship started moving and Enma gathered enough courage to ask, “What is it that you took me on for?”

Tsunayoshi gave him an inscrutable look and Enma was stricken; there was something way too familiar about Tsunayoshi’s eyes, Tsunayoshi’s voice and Tsunayoshi’s mess of hair.

He opened his mouth, about to ask Tsunayoshi if the two ever met before, when Tsunayoshi cut him off with a careless hand wave towards the rest of the corridor they were in, “Today is just a scout mission, to give you the chance to interact first-hand with what we want you to work with. Until we arrive, make yourself comfortable, go explore the ship or something. I’ll be on the deck in case you needed anything.”

“Have we met before?” Interrupted before or not, the desire to know was too strong to keep a tight lid on the question and it tumbled past his lips.

Tsunayoshi gave him yet another inscrutable look as he took a couple of steps forward and right into Enma’s space. Raising his head, he looked Enma in the eye and whispered, “Have we?”

Enma’s throat suddenly felt tight, and his eyes blurred with slight tears as he was struck with the spontaneous urge to cry and hug Tsunayoshi for all he was worth and not let him go.

“Are you two done yet?” Lambo’s bored drawl cut into the tense atmosphere like a sword; Tsunayoshi retreated and walked away passing by Lambo on his way while Enma took a deep breath and braced himself against the nearest wall.

“That looked pretty intense.”

Enma blinked out of his stupor and focused on Lambo, “Huh? Oh. Yeah, I… don’t know what happened. I just asked him if we met before- he looked very familiar and-” And what? What more was Enma supposed to say when even he didn’t know what he was exactly feeling at the moment aside from a great sense of relief that threatened to knock him over. Relief and happiness and giddiness and yearning and eagerness, eagerness to what he didn’t know but he wanted, oh he wanted-

“Hey!” Fingers snapped in his vision, jolting him out of his musings, “You spaced out for a moment there.”

Enma refocused on Lambo, who gestured to him to stand up (when did he sit down? He didn’t remember) and pulled him along down the hallway, “We should probably get you to put your things in one of the rooms before we take you to meet the rest.”

.

It didn’t take long to introduce Enma to the others on board; some of them he met before, like Chrome, Yamamoto and Ryohei. There was the teen who took Enma to the Vongola offices a few days back, who was introduced as Gokudera. And there were others he hadn’t met, like Chrome’s brother, Mukuro, Ryohei’s sister, Kyoko, and Hibari, never mind Tsunayoshi.

Their destination was the island Enma woke up on days ago.

(Enma had to blink at that thought; had it been only few days since then? It felt longer than that to him.)

The ship stopped at the edge of the island and dropped down the gangplank.

Yamamoto must have seen Enma’s curious look and responded, “We’re not going in with the ship because we’d rather keep it on standby in case of sudden emergencies in the main land that may require help from us.”

Enma nodded in understanding as he followed after Yamamoto down the gangplank.

The group consisting of Tsunayoshi, Hibari, Kyoko, Yamamoto and Enma trekked through the forest to the small shoreline near the river, crossing it to start climbing the mountain on the other side. Enma was surprised to see a pathway well-hidden between the rocks jutting out of the mountain. Tsunayoshi led them through it with ease.

The moment they reached the top point and started to descend, Enma was stricken with a sudden sense of fear that almost froze him in place. The group momentarily stopped, and Enma wondered if they wanted to take break.

They didn’t; in fact, Enma saw that they only stopped for mere moments, enough for Tsunayoshi to take out a vial from one of his pockets and knock back half of its content. The group, and Enma didn’t even notice them tense up, relaxed only after Tsunayoshi drank from whatever it was the vial contained. Enma wondered if it was a medicine that Tsunayoshi needed.

As the group moved again, Enma noticed the formation changing; previously, Tsunayoshi was at the front, followed by Yamamoto, then Enma himself, then Kyoko then Hibari (Enma belatedly realized that they were keeping him in the middle), now, Tsunayoshi hung back until he was walking next to Enma and Kyoko moved forward to walk behind Yamamoto, keeping Hibari at the rear.

The moment the group made it out of the pathway cleverly hidden in the mountains, the town that lay beyond the mountain range came into view.

Enma’s heartbeat sped up until he could feel his heart violently slam against his ribcage and the blood pressure pound in his ears.

The buildings seemed to have suffered heavy damage some time back but they looked like someone put in the effort to rebuild them.

Then Enma saw the pedestals.

Rows upon rows of protected pedestals, each cushioned and bearing crystals in many colors, intact, broken, beat up or simply shattered, leaving shards to rest on the cushion, all lined up in rows that looked more like grave markers than a jewelry display.

And the wave of emotions and memories that Enma didn’t know he was holding back crashed on top of him, pulling him under, choking him with inconsolable grief, suffocating him with images of blood and sounds of screams and smoke and calls for help-

In the distance beyond the buildings where the Walls circled around, stood a huge pair of doors, open wide.

A sense of visceral fear lanced through him, knocking the breath from his lungs and forcing him into his knees.

He was grabbed by a hand; he only saw a flash of concerned amber ey- orange? Was that Tsu? What was Tsu doing here? He thought deliriously as a soothing voice reached his ear, barely heard over the roar of memories and pain and-

Something was brought to his lips, and then he felt a hot liquid slide down his throat; the burn brought a sudden, very brief moment of clarity.

In that moment, he knew, without a shadow of doubt, that this town was his hometown. This is where he came from; this is where he used to live before it was attacked. The doors, he must close them. The town was gone everyone was gone he was all alone.

Fatigue swept through him and his vision turned to black as he faded away from consciousness.

.

When he woke up, he was feeling groggy, throat dry and limbs as heavy as lead.

“You’re awake.” Enma heard Yamamoto say before he saw Yamamoto come into view, leaning over him with concern lining his face, “You haven’t been out of it for long, we moved you back to the ship and now we’re on our way to continue the patrol and drop you off at the Temple.”

“Wh-what happened?” Enma asked, voice hoarse.

“You received quite a shock when we reached the town. Thankfully, Tsuna brought enough from his special medicine for the two of you,” Yamamoto explained as he gave Enma a glass of water.

“Special medicine? Shock?” Enma asked after he gulped down the offered water.

“Yeah.” Yamamoto scratched the back of his neck, “The town gives Tsuna flashes as bad as the one you had back in there, and since we come and go there quite a lot, we ended up coming up with a recipe that will keep Tsuna alert, he drinks it before we head in. The vial he had on him? That would be his special medicine.

"He had no idea how you would react to the town yourself, so he kept half of what he had on him for you in case of emergency.”

Enma blinked, “He… he did?” Enma blushed in embarrassment and ducked his head, then he whipped his head up as a though occurred to him, “Wait! How much of the medicine did he need? I remember he only drank half of the vial. Did he need the other half?”

“Well…” Yamamoto trailed off, “Kinda? It’s not life or death if that’s what’s worrying you.”

“But there are side-effects?”

“Well, yeah. The medicine helps him handle the emotional upheaval from the flashes.”

Enma moved to stand up and go look for Tsunayoshi; Yamamoto hovered over him, making sure he’d be there to catch Enma if his legs failed him, “And what is going to happen to him since he didn’t take the full vial?”

“Ah.” Yamamoto’s smile had a strange lilt to it, “His feelings go haywire. He needs half the regular dose, a full vial, to stave off the initial onslaught of the flashes. He can deal without the other half, so it’s okay.”

“No, it’s not okay.” His feelings went haywire? That didn’t sound like fun to Enma who spent the last few days having mood swings.

Yamamoto looked amused, and Enma snapped slightly, “Why didn’t he have more on him then?”

“It takes a lot of time to prepare the medicine. And given that we’ve been going to the town more frequently lately, we could only make time to make one dose between visits. Ah, there we are.”

Enma noticed that Yamamoto had guided him towards the deck.

Out on the deck, the atmosphere was light with amusement and faint chuckles. Enma did not understand what they were all being so cheerful about.

Then a blur jumped at him, arms wrapped tightly around his neck and pupil-less amber eyes blinked innocently at him.

Tsunayoshi grinned at him, “Enma! Enma! You’re awake!”

Enma gave Yamamoto a shocked look; Yamamoto merely sent him an amused grin, eyes twinkling as if to say ‘yeah, that happens’.

“Hey, Enma,” Tsunayoshi mock-whispered, “How are you? You aren’t still sleeping, right? Right? I don’t want you to go sleep and stay asleep for so long again, okay?”

“O… kay?”

Tsunayoshi nodded vigorously, “Yeah, I don’t want you to go red crystal on me again, you got it?”

Enma almost choked in shock.

“Hey! Heyhey! Did you hear me? No crystal-ing on me! Understand?”

“Yeah, sure, I understand,” Enma said distractedly as his brain whirred with half-remembered memories about crystals.

“Good.” Tsunayoshi nodded, then he pulled Enma down while pushing himself up and sloppily pressed his lips against Enma’s, who completely froze in place.

“Very good!” Tsunayoshi disentangled from him and skipped over to Kyoko and nuzzled her cheeks, “Kyokooooo! You have pretty eyes, can we cuddle?”

“Sure thing, Tsuna.” Kyoko smiled brightly.

Her smile didn’t falter, even though it did soften into a tender smile, when Tsunayoshi went and tightly hugged a blushing Gokudera before plopping himself to lay down with his head on Hibari’s lap, face pressed into Hibari’s stomach, before starting to hum.

Hibari’s hand went to Tsunayoshi’s hair, but Hibari wasn’t looking at him; he was looking straight at Enma with an inscrutable look.

Enma didn’t pay the look a lot of attention as he was busy clamping down a hand on his mouth and asking Yamamoto, “What… what was that?”

“Ah, don’t worry, he does that.”

Kyoko beckoned Enma towards her and patted the seat next to her, “Sit down, Enma, we still have some time left until we arrive at the land, so it’s better if you just relax for the time being.”

Enma sat down next to her, marveling at the quiet atmosphere; he’d honestly expected them to be rowdier than this, he’d overheard some stories about their rambunctious attitude from people in Vongola City and at the Temple and thought he’d be seeing it first hand, apparently not. Not that he was complaining, he had enough excitement to last him a week.

Casting another look around the deck, he realized why they were all quiet: Tsunayoshi’s body was moving with the quiet, steady breathing of a sleeping person. At some point, Mukuro had thrown a blanket over Tsunayoshi while Ryohei and Chrome had moved to sit on either side of him and Hibari like silent sentinels.

It appeared that he wasn’t the only person who had enough excitement for the day.

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End part 3

Next

Red Crystal, Part 2

Previous

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The next morning, Enma woke up refreshed; the bone-deep tiredness he had felt throughout yesterday was gone. Looking around the room, he noted that Skull’s bed was empty; did he leave already?

He yawned as he walked towards the window and opened it; he stuck his head out and was surprised by the sun high in the sky.

He blinked in shock; he’d slept in until noon? Just how tired was he? And why was he left to sleep in like this anyway? He rushed back into his bedside to get his clothes and change into them before he left the room and looked around the corridor.

He… did not remember the way to the main hall.

He resisted the urge to slam his head against the wall in embarrassment. Maybe he should just wander around and hope he either ended up finding his way to the main hall or found by any of the priests.

Sighing, he walked away from the room in the first direction that grabbed his attention.

After minutes of walking and not finding anyone or hearing anything, he wondered if maybe he picked the wrong direction. Luckily, he came across a pair of big doors that looked promising.

Until he opened them and found himself in a library of sorts.

Enma sighed in dismay; he definitely picked the wrong direction.

He rubbed a hand against his face as he pondered turning back the way he came and hoping to find his way back.

Just as he was about to turn around, a vague memory echoed in his head; there was something about the Sky Temple’s library? He furrowed his eyebrows in confusion and concentration as he tried to dredge up what the memory was about.

“Hey, Enma! You wouldn’t believe it, but the library has a secret room!”

Huh? Enma blinked; secret room?

Why would he have a memory about something like that anyway? He shook his head and went to sit on the nearest bench he found inside the library. Putting his face in his hands, he refocused on the memory again.

Concentrating, he pulled up as much details as he could muster.

“Of course I know! I’m a priest there now!”

Enma’s lips twisted in wry amusement; he didn’t know who that person who told him about the subject in the past was (which was such a shame), but he had no idea how they could just tell him about becoming a priest, priests were supposed to keep their true identity a secret, to avoid stigma like what happened with the Sky Temple’s first Head Priest-

Enma frowned; he knew the name, he was sure of it, why did it have to slip from him, too?

He sighed heavily as he leaned back against the wall.

The wall slid away from underneath him and he tumbled back.

Groaning, he rose up, wondering just what happened. A quick look around told him that he wasn’t in the library anymore. Oh, he was in a library but not the one he was in just moments ago.

He couldn’t have possibly stumbled across the secret room, could he?

He sighed; oh, great. He should probably look around for a way out.

The room didn’t look like it had anything special, at first glance. But Enma was scouring the room in search for an exit, and so he noticed how old the books in the room were. There was something about them that attracted his attention: each and every one of them had compass-like markings on the spine. Enma’s hand went to briefly cover his eyes as he closed them. The markings looked very familiar.

The markings looked exactly the same as his own pupils.

The room held many layers of secrets woven into it if anyone bothered to look deep enough.

And Enma bothered to look deep enough.

Everything felt achingly familiar from the couch off to one end, the cushioned pedestal, the books, the entr-

“There you are.”

Enma jumped in shock before he whipped around to come face to face (or rather, face to cloaked face) with the Head Priest.

“We worried about you when we didn’t find you in your room.”

“Ah, sorry about that, I-” Enma started to apologize, but the Head Priest cut him off with a raised hand.

“No need to apologize.” Enma could almost swear he heard the hint of a smile in the Priest’s voice, “You’re not the first person who ends up lost in the Temple on their first day. I’m more surprised that you found your way in here.”

Enma stiffened.

“Relax, I know you did not break in, the entrance to this room isn’t exactly locked to you as long as you know how to get in.”

“But I don’t know how to either.”

“So it was an accident. The mere fact that you made it in means that there is nothing stopping you from being here.”

Enma cocked his head to the side, confused.

The Priest gestured to the books, “These books are special and unique, you won’t find them anywhere else on the land. That’s because they teach Spirit Core techniques, and everyone has Soul Fire, no one has a Spirit Core.”

Enma perked up at the term.

Spirit Core.

It sounded so familiar to him, a fifth limb he didn’t consciously realize he had until he thought about it.

“The only reason you were able to enter the room without prior knowledge tells me that you have a Spirit Core. There is no way I could prevent you from making use of this room and what it has.” There was a strange note in the Priest’s voice, one that Enma could not place, “In fact, it’s pretty much yours now. You can come here any time you wish and practice.”

Enma shook his hands, “No, wait! I can’t just do that!”

“Oh? Why is that?” The Priest cocked their head to the side, “Do you need help? An instructor?”

Enma blushed, “I-! I’m not sure why you are being so generous to me like that! It’s your library, isn’t it? Why are you handing it over to a stranger?”

“Enma, do you know what duties get carried inside a Temple by the Priests? Do you know what the Temples double as? A learning institution and training facility, to tutor people in how to use their Soul Fire. This place is the perfect place for you to learn and I-” the Head Priest reached out their hands to the edges of their hood, “-am the person qualified to tutor you.” The Priest tugged the hood off and Enma flinched back, covering his eyes with his hands.

“Easy, you are going to be my student now, aren’t you? I don’t think pesky Temple rules about Priests keeping their identities secret from others who aren’t Priests need apply.”

Enma kept his eyes covered, “Do you do this with all of your students?”

“Oh, no, you’re a special case.” Enma blushed, “Now, remove your hands from your eyes; I do believe it would be difficult to navigate the room without your sight. Unless you know how to do so.”

Enma didn’t know how to navigate the room without his eyesight, so he reluctantly pulled his hands away from his eyes and slowly turned his head to look right at the Priest.

The Priest appeared to be around Enma’s age, with combed, brown hair, held together and pinned at the back of their head, pupil-less, orange eyes, and a soft smile.

“You can keep this a secret between us, yes?”

Enma nodded, the Priest’s smile widened.

“Call me Tsu when we are alone, okay?”

Enma’s blush intensified.

Tsu tugged their hood back on, “Now, come, you still haven’t eaten anything yet.”

.

Enma pushed his empty plate away from him and looked around, wondering where he should go with it. One of the priests solved the dilemma for him by swooping in and snatching the plate away. He blinked at their back in bewilderment.

“Well then, what are you going to do next?”

Enma turned to the direction of the voice to see Tsu approach him, “About?”

“Your next step. I’ll be tutoring you. But what about other things?”

“I don’t know.” He raked his hand through his hair, “You know about my memories. Or lack of them. I don’t know where I came from or where I’m supposed to go next. I’m not sure I even know what I can do!”

Tsu hummed thoughtfully, “That wouldn’t be a big problem. You’re in Vongola City. If you go to their main building and talk with whoever is behind the counter once you enter, they’d see what to do with you.”

Enma cocked his head to the side, “The Vongola, huh? If I remember correctly, they provide food and board in exchange for working for them, aside from paying money for any services you do for them.”

“You know that, at least.”

Enma frowned in confusion, “It’s strange, it just popped into my head. I don’t know from where I learned of this.”

“Well, no matter.” Tsu settled themself down on the chair next to Enma, “Would you like to go now? We could organize your lessons after we see what comes from checking in with the Vongola.”

Enma rose from his seat, “Okay, I’ll go do that.” He turned and inclined his head in Tsu’s direction, “Thank you for everything. You’ve been a really great help.”

Tsu waved him off, “There’s no need to thank me, I’ve just been doing my job.”

“Still…”

“Alright, alright. You’re welcome.” Tsu rose as well, “Before I go, one of the Vongola will be dropping by soon, how about you go to the main hall to meet up with him and tell him about your circumstances. He’d probably also take you to the Vongola building in case the location is one you don’t remember as well.”

Enma smiled bashfully at them, “There you are, helping me again. I don’t know where I would be without you.”

Tsu was silent.

Enma’s smile slowly slid off his face, wondering if he said something he shouldn’t have said.

When Tsu finally spoke, there was a strange note in their voice, “You… don’t need to thank me for this.”

With that, Tsu walked away, leaving Enma confused and feeling like he missed something very important.

Again.

He hung his head, inwardly cursing himself; his hands were shaking as he raised them to his face. He pushed the heels of his palms against his eyes until stars exploded behind his eyelids.

He asked himself, for the umpteenth time since he woke up the previous day, just what was he doing, where was he supposed to go, where was he supposed be, who was he supposed to be.

But to no avail; he was still a stumbling, lost mess and he hated it.

He doubted that he could ever pick himself up and rebuild whatever it was that toppled and caused him to find himself unconscious on a strange island with half his memories missing.

When he deemed that he wallowed enough for the time being, he put himself back together as best as he could and walked in the direction he knew the main hall was in.

He was greeted by the sight of a frowning silver-haired, green-eyed teenager.

“You’re late,” The teen said briskly.

Enma’s eyebrow twitched.

“Follow me.” The teen gestured as he strode off towards the entrance. Enma sighed and trudged after him.

.

The teen silently guided Enma through Vongola City towards where Enma assumed was the Vongola’s main building, the only sign he gave of acknowledging Enma’s company was the occasional scrutinizing look he’d throw over his shoulder at Enma, as if trying to figure out a particularly stubborn puzzle.

(Enma would like to hear what he figured out, because Enma himself was still trying to figure things out himself.)

Their arrival to the main building was without fanfare; even the building itself didn’t stand out, which Enma found strange, a part of him expected it to be very flashy.

The teen ushered him in and pointed towards the counter where a girl with short hair pulled up in a ponytail was standing behind it before disappearing into one of the doors.

The girl saw them enter and noticed Enma being led to her, she smiled, “Hello and welcome to the Vongola’s offices! I’m Haru! What can I do for you?”

“Um.” Enma fumbled a bit, wondering how he could broach the topic, “I’m here to ask about job offers?” He inwardly cringed at the way he phrased it.

“Oh!” Haru seemed to understand what he was asking about, “Here, our forms!” She reached under the counter and rummaged before she brought out some paperwork, “Please fill them out and hand them in sometime during the next three days and we’ll look them over and see what jobs to assign you.”

“O-okay.” Enma held the paperwork and wondered if that was all, should he ask her?

“But there’s one thing.” Haru placed her index finger on her lower lip as she observed him, “We only get job applicants through recommendations, and every time, the person doing the recommendation accompanies the recommended applicant to meet the person manning the counter at the moment.” She scrutinized him, “You’re the first person ever to come by themselves. How did you know about the job applications?”

“I.” Enma snapped his mouth shut, tense and wracking his brain to figure out a way to answer her, “I. Someone told me. I don’t remember who at the moment. But.”

Her eyes bore into his own, “You came from the Sky Temple?”

“Ah, yes?”

“Did the Head Priest approve of you coming over?”

“Yes.”

Haru cocked her head to the side, “And they didn’t tell you about the recommendation?”

“No, they didn’t.”

Haru gave him a strange look before she returned to her previous cheer, “Well, no matter! It’s not like you did something wrong! So, relax! See you later, ‘kay?”

Enma nodded mutely and walked out of the building. That was back to the Sky Temple with him. Again.

(It wasn’t like he had another place to go to.)

.

Twenty minutes and going through many winding corners to get to one of the main roads in the city later, Enma was absolutely thankful to the natural slope of the land and the Temple being built on the very top, otherwise, he’d have been lost ten times over.

He clutched the paperwork tighter to his chest as he walked across the bridge to reach the Temple. He was met by Tsu once he approached the building, Tsu having just come down the stair-case rising at the side of the building.

“How did it go?”

“They gave me paperwork to fill out.”

Tsu hummed, “We can go over it in the library and then I can start you off with your training. Is that okay with you?”

“Sure.”

.

After the two sat down next to each other on the couch in the secret room, Enma spread the forms between them.

Tsu tugged the hood off and brought their face closer to inspect the papers, which brought them close to Enma, who was doing the same.

Enma tried to read the forms, but his attention kept being pulled towards the figure sitting next to him. His eyes trailed over Tsu, taking in the youthful features, the pupil-less orange eyes, the brown hair combed back and carefully pinned at the back of their head with fancily-shaped golden wire.

A ghost of a memory pushed itself to the forefront of Enma’s mind, super-imposing a faint image over Tsu’s figure.

“Have we met before?” Enma found himself asking.

Tsu jolted a bit, looking at him in slight confusion and- and another expression that Enma couldn’t decipher. Something strong, deep in Enma’s core, screamed at him to look, look and see. He was looking, and he was seeing, he just wasn’t seeing clearly.

A strange expression flitted through Tsu’s eyes as they burned brighter; they opened their mouth to speak, but a chime through the room interrupted them.

Tsu closed their mouth, lips pressed tightly into a thin line, eyes dimming before they blazed again, “It looks like there is something that requires my immediate attention. I must go. See you later?”

“Yeah. I'll… try to see what I can do about the forms.”

Tsu nodded and left the room and Enma returned to scrutinizing the forms.

He couldn’t shake off the feeling that he missed the opportunity to solve all of his current problems, to remember what all those echoing thoughts wanted to communicate to him, to know where he stood, in the grand scheme of things.

.

(Later, he’d look back to this moment and wonder if it really would have been a good thing that Tsu was interrupted when they were.)

.

End part 2

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